Costa Rica's Beaches

Sunbathing on one of Costa Rica's white sanded beaches sound appealing? How about a black sanded beach with sand so black it looks purple. A large part of Costa Rica's allure is attributed to its beaches. And rightfully so!Cano-Island-Beach.jpg

With over 800 miles of coastline from both the Pacific and Atlantic (Caribbean) coasts, you are bound to find a deserted beach somewhere to suit your fancy. But chances are, you won't be alone. With lush tropical rain forests lining the shores you might just get a few curious looks from the monkeys and birds hanging out in the trees.

Most of Costa Rica's beaches are pristine with clear-blue waters lapping at the shore. The first 50 meters from the water is publicly protected land and accessible to everyone. There are no private beaches in Costa Rica.

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"In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth." ~ Rachel Carson

The Ecological Blue Flag


beachblueflagbig.gif Costa Rica strives to protect the environment and thus, has developed a system to carefully monitor beaches. In 1996 the Ecological Blue Flag Program was designed and implemented. This program marks and rewards beaches meeting certain environmental standards.

Each year the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage evaluates coastal communities based on:

  • Access to potable water
  • Administration
  • Beach Cleanliness
  • Environment Education
  • Security
  • Sewage Treatment
  • Water Quality

These beaches, listed by Province, have been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag:



    A: Satisfactory quality of ocean water and beaches, access to drinking water, sewage treatment, trash cans, environmental education, security and administration.

    AA: In addition to the above, the beaches must also have signaling and monitoring of the currents and life guards in the high season

    AAA: In addition to all the above, the beaches must also comply with regulations for camping, comfortable and safe access for persons with disabilities, first aid services, tourist information centers, health services and showers.

    AAAA: In addition to all the above, the beaches must also recycle waste, and there must be annual surveillance and a committee for emergencies

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Map of Blue Flag Beaches

The following beaches recently lost their certification:

  • Manzanillo (Guanacaste)
  • Arenilla
  • Ocotal
  • Tamarindo
  • Pelada (Nosara)
  • Agujas (Puntarenas)
  • Dominical
  • Playa Negra of Puerto Viejo

Note: Check the status of beaches once you get there, since it's an annual evaluation, some beaches may have lost their Blue Flag or some may have gained one.

Other Things to See:

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Inside Beaches » North Pacific Beaches

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